Editorial |  February 1, 2012

VICTORIANS are repulsed by the illegal activities of puppy farmers and horrified by the apparent rise of dog attacks.

Law-makers have been working to respond to this community pressure, trying to untangle a hotch-potch of laws that have become confusing to pet owners and regulators alike.

Local government does not have the resources or the powers to adequately tackle the issue.

The Victorian Government wanted a uniform approach and acted quickly.

It revised the state’s animal laws, seeking to respond to the twin issues of cruelty and public safety. But in its haste there have been some unintended consequences.

The laws broadly seek to identify every pet in Victoria.

Like traceback ear-tags on livestock, microchipping of all cats and dogs was seen as desirable and achievable.

Tighter controls on the breeding and advertising of cats and dogs was also a weapon to punish those seeking to profit from misery.

These new laws are only weeks old but in its haste to close down illegal operators, the Government has made criminals of some decent people.

The failure to consult working dog groups in the drafting of these amendments beggars belief.

There is no consideration of the understandable differences in breeding dogs for work, for show and for pets.

Tolerance is needed now while these issues are worked through.

An amnesty on prosecutions is only common sense as is the need for a public education program to inform breeders and pet owners about their new responsibilities.

So, too, does consideration about the separation of working dogs as a legitimate group from companion animals as other states have done.

Now is the time for a compassionate government to admit mistakes have been made, consult so the problems are fully understood and then set about fixing them.



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